Opinion – Amiibo? No Thanks.

Amiibo is nothing but bad news for Nintendo fans. Here’s why.

With the recent announcement of Mario Party 10, fans learned Amiibo will play a much bigger part in the game than we might have expected. Remember, up until now Amiibo’s main features have been mostly optional or cosmetic.

Take a look at the picture below.

absolute bs

Looks like a normal game menu… right?

No.

“Amiibo Party” has an invisible lock on it that costs US $12.99 to remove because you need at least one Amiibo to access it. This means approximately one-third of the game is sitting behind a paywall. Mario Party 10 is essentially incomplete if you don’t own an Amiibo and that’s fucking concerning if spending extra cash on plastic is not exactly your idea of a good time.

This is exactly the style of publishing that gamers worldwide detest bitterly and with good reason. We buy a console, we buy a game, we want to play a fucking game. We don’t want to pay extra for the whole experience. It’s just rude.

amiibobadUnfortunately, this is only the beginning. Thanks to the unprecedented success of Amiibo, it looks like this style of development is here to stay. And if you’re buying Amiibo then you’re basically asking for it.

“Amiibo-only” content is almost definitely being shoved into games in development right now. Bet on it. I wonder just how will future titles be affected. Will the next Mario game require an Amiibo purchase to access additional levels? You might as well prepare yourself for it. Nintendo are very out of touch with their consumers right now.

Should Amiibo continue to be implemented in such a way that it stands between the gamer and significant game content, I don’t want a part of it. It’s a nothing but a massive middle finger to a loyal fanbase and should be greeted with scornful rejection by the informed consumer.

So.

“Would you like to buy any Amiibos with your purchase today?”

NOPE

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Top 5 3DS Games

If you haven’t got a 3DS by now, here are 5 more reasons.

1) The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

This is the best hand-held Zelda adventure you will play. A Link Between Worlds takes some inspiration from the duality aesthetic of A Link to the Past but somehow makes it even better. The dungeon design is ingenious, the soundtrack is godlike and the artwork is totally stunning. Even the 3D effects work well here. What more could you possibly want in a game?

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Rarely is action, exploration and puzzle-solving tied together so perfectly in one game. There’s really nothing I can mention to hold this title back. It’s absorbing, delightful and just totally fun from beginning to end… And when you do finally get there, fire up hero mode and do it all again.

2) Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

Nintendo couldn’t have picked a better title to port across to the 3DS than Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Retro Studios have a knack for turning just about everything they touch into gold, and DKCR3D is no exception. Collecting every last banana is just as addictive here as it was on the SNES all those years ago. The 3D effects shine as the player is blasted from background to foreground and the soundtrack is expectedly brilliant.

dkr3d

Each world is full of personality, as are the Kongs themselves. Even the cut-scenes are funny. There’s even a new set of levels at the end for an added bonus.

3) Bravely Default

 I’m currently 30 hours into this game and loving just about every minute. The Brave/Default mechanic adds a some new spice to what is otherwise a classic SquareEnix adventure.

The narrative has its ups and downs (I don’t get why Japan isn’t tired of the perverted old man stereotype yet) but for the most part it’s well written and there is some good humor too. It’s also a marvel to look and the OST by Revo is stellar.

bravely-default

The gameplay is plenty of fun thanks to an emphasis on customization. The job (class) system is comprehensive and the ability to modify the random encounter rate is a godsend. I’ve been tweak

ing it a lot already – it’s very useful if you’re revisiting an old dungeon or you find yourself stranded and need to bail out of an area fast. These features subvert hand-holding in the best way possible without sacrificing accessibility, so don’t be shy to pick this one up even if you’re new to JRPGs.

4) The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D

There are more articles written on why Ocarina of Time is the greatest game of all time than there are cells in the human body so instead of boring you with what is already common knowledge to many gamers, I’ll save you the spiel here.

oot3d

That said, the 3DS version of the 1998 action-rpg classic is just as fresh as it was before the turn of the century. The control scheme is slick and modernized, it looks great and sounds just as good as it always did. The inclusion of Master Quest is a huge bonus. On top of that, Majora’s Mask is also on the way to the 3DS just in case you weren’t sold already!

5) Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan

This is a gritty, old-school dungeon crawler made for a hand-held system and it works out beautifully.

Drawing up your map on the touch-screen with the stylus pen as you traverse EO‘s dungeons makes for a very authentic experience. There’s not much to love about the story, but creating your party and tweaking their roles as you progress is still plenty of fun.

EOIV

Be warned though: this game is hard even on the normal difficulty setting. You will encounter enemies very early on that can and will completely rip you apart… However, leaving a note on your map as to where they are and returning later on (with more experience) to crush them instead is incredibly satisfying.

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Review – Super Smash Bros. 3DS Demo!

IT’S TIME TO SMASH

The Super Smash Bros 3DS demo has landed!

ssb

The internet has been buzzing over the last couple of months as a significant number of details were leaked from various sources. Sure enough, a bunch of these details turned out to be true. These leaks dominated discussion and speculation for the upcoming game, but now it’s time for a real hands-on experience.

[First up, I should point out that the demo is limited to 30 plays. You could argue that this is a reasonable number, but at the same time it places an unnecesary squeeze on gamers who want the freedom to soak up the experience without having to worry about it running out. It’s disappointing to see that Nintendo are still awkwardly paranoid about managing their IP like this, even after the consumer has paid for a Nintendo console in the first place…]

The demo includes one map – the latest incarnation of Battlefield – along with 5 playable characters: Mario, Link, Pikachu and two newcomers in MegaMan and Animal Crossing’s very own Villager.

battlefield

The game runs flawlessly on a 3DS XL, and I didn’t notice any slowdown even during chaotic 4-player matches. The 3DS circle pad feels a little strange at first but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of. Maneuvering your character is easy, and before long you’ll be sending your opponents flying helplessly across the screen. It’s a one-of-a-kind fighting game experience, and it still feels super fresh.

Limitations are in place (you can’t change the game mode or the item switch) but there is still loads of fun to be had here. A handful of new items are on display which is a good bonus, and multiplayer is supported which is also neat.

The veteran characters are fun to play, and it’s cool to see the little tweaks made to their gameplay. Link and Pikachu feel a little different but in a good way. Mario plays like the all-rounder he’s been since day one. However, the real bonus for long-time smash fans is found in the two newcomers.

megaman-smash-bros

MegaMan is a decent brawler with and has a nicely balanced move-set. Fans of the MegaMan franchise will be pleased to know that he can run-and-gun using basic attacks in combat. He’s armed with some neat projectiles and pretty strong recovery move. I feel like he’s a great fit for the impressive character roster.

My personal favourite though is Villager. I can remember when he was announced as a playable character to a massively positive reception, so it’s fitting that he’s loads of fun to play. His moves are a little more unconventional and his stylised character model is magically cute-but-lethal. Getting the hang of his moves and abilities is incredibly satisfying.

Villager_Grab

Lastly, I’ll mention that the 3D effect (remember that?) actually comes off well here. Ironically the game was not built around the feature at all but it still looks good in my eyes. I still prefer playing without it though.


VERDICT

If you own a 3DS I’d easily recommend checking out this demo. The smash experience is feels great on a handheld. Plus, it’s basically worth it just to crush some skulls with Villager anyway.

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REAL Unreleased Script segment from “The Big Bang Theory” Season 3

SCENE

(Penny opens the door to Sheldon and Leonard’s House. Leonard isn’t home.)

PENNY: Oh, hi Sheldon.

SHELDON: (pause). …Hello.

(Audience begins to giggle. They know something very funny is about to unfold.)

PENNY: Oh what are you doing, are you playing Xbox?

SHELDON: (Sighs)

(Audience begins to laugh at a considerable volume. Some audience members have fallen off their seat in anticipation of the oncoming punchline.)

SHELDON No, Penny. This is an Xbox 360.

(Audience erupts with laughter. Multiple flares are lit up, and fireworks decorate the sky. Ambulances are called but do not arrive soon enough. The audience is laughing at such an outrageous volume that the studio begins to rumble. Amidst the cacophony of laughter, the ground splits open swallows the audience, and then the studio itself. None survive. The Big Bang Theory is declared to be the most hilarious TV show ever to grace earth. Many die in their homes when the episode goes to air.)

END SCENE

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Opinions – Mario Kart 8 DLC Wrap-Up

Mario Kart 8’s first DLC will land on August 27. And it’s free. Yay!

First I’ll outline the upcoming changes, and then I’ll raise a few of my own ideas.

Let’s go:

– Mercedes-Benz x Mario Kart 8

This was advertised a while earlier on and now it’s ready to launch.

First up, I feel compelled to mention that the models just don’t fit into the Mario Kart universe very well. The game is super colourful and highly stylized, and the new vehicles just look totally out of place. The Mercedes-Benz karts are shrunken versions of real-life models, so the end result is an awkward little cart that looks like a bloated Mirco-Machine(®). There is no info on colour schemes or further customization either. The DLC promo video showed a lot of grey/black models, but there was also a white and red one in the mix. A few more colours might help. But either way it still feels kind of strange.

mercedes

On another note – I’m confused about why the two companies have partnered in this way. Mercedes-Benz are a prestige car manufacturer, while Nintendo sell the cheapest modern console available today. What are they hoping to gain out of this deal?  As a marketing move it makes little sense to me, so feel free to comment about this if you have any insight.

– Post-Race Menu Fix

The first gripe for just about all gamers who bought this game was the post-race menu screen during single player. Instead of just tapping the A button in order to breeze on through to the next race, the selection would default to the “replay” option instead. This meant that you’d be inadvertedly loading up the replay feature by accident a bunch of times until you got used to it. It felt very unnatural so it’s great this is getting fixed.

replay

However, in all seriousness it seems strange that the game was released this way in the first place. It is totally awesome that Nintendo is actually listening to consumer feedback and acting on it, but on the other hand it’s also something extremely minor and won’t affect people who bought the game at launch and barely play offline anymore. Baby steps, Nintendo. Baby steps.

Map Tweak

There will now be an option to display the map on the tv screen. This will mean you can see all you need without having to quickly look down at the game-pad, which should make everything a little easier. Leaving the map off-screen wasn’t a bad idea, because this way the player gets to soak up the graphics with minimal HUD clutter. However – moving the map onto the main screen should make for a much more streamlined experience.

map

I hope this option will also be available for gamepad-only display although it might not work out so well on such a small screen. Another bonus would be the ability to see which items each player is carrying – either implemented within or alongside the map – or as a separate feature. This could potentially minimize the sheer chaos of the item system and make it feel slightly less random because the player would be armed with just a little more info.

– Online Stability, Statistics and More

It’s fair to say that the online experience with Mario Kart 8 is still a little flaky. Match-making needs a stich-up and general stability needs help to prevent disconnects. This is a highly welcome addition to the patch.

Mario_kart_8_6

I’m also super keen to see what statistics we get. Remember the amount of stats available in Super Smash Bros. Brawl? That was cool. I don’t think it will be as extensive this time round but it will be nice to get something. The source I read also mentioned that the “most recent” kart configuration could be saved. This is also good, but how about a few custom slots for different set-ups? That would be awesome indeed.

Changes i’d like to see in the future (even if they might never happen):

– Item Rebalancing

I mentioned in my review that the items aren’t balanced very well in MK8 and this is still a very common complaint about the game. I also said that over time the ranking system manages to seperate the varying skill levels of players over time… However, luck still remains a real element in the outcome of every race.

mariokartitembox

Just earlier today I found myself in second place on the final lap of a circuit… And at the final item box set I pulled out a Crazy 8 and launched in to steal first place. This just shouldn’t happen at all particularly when the guy in last place is only getting mushrooms, because we’ve all been there too. I think the erratic nature of the item balance in Mario Kart 8 could be improved without cutting into the fun. The craziness is part of the charm, but it’s also completely out of control and could benefit majorly with just a little tweaking.

– Map Packs + New Racers

This seems obvious and would no doubt be incredibly popular. I’m pretty sure a large slice of the community would be prepared to part with a little cash for additional content. Maybe Nintendo feel that additional courses would somehow discount the originals in some way? I don’t know. But more than that I still can’t believe Nabbit didn’t make it into this game as a playable racer.

nabbit

– Throw Battle Mode In The Trash, Re-invent It From Scratch, Never Speak Of Previous Battle Mode Again

And that’s pretty much it.


 

What are your thoughts on the first Mario Kart 8 DLC? What else would you like to see injected into the game?

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Review – Girls und Panzer: Kore ga Hontou no Anzio-sen Desu! – OVA

This will be a quick one. I’ll assume you’ve already seen Girls und Panzer and are wondering whether the OVA is worth checking out. If you haven’t watched the show yet, it’s best to watch it first but you could probably still enjoy this title on its own if you really wanted to. Although you will find a lot more to like about it if you’re familiar with the original tv series.

The story takes place during the battle against Anzio, a “Japanese-themed Italian school”. Be prepared for a lot of deliciously animated pasta.

Just about all the elements you loved about the show are here. The characters are up to their usual antics – Mako sleeping on the job, Saori being an air-head, and of course Miho whipping up moments of tactical brilliance when it matters most. Technically the outcome of the battle is already known to begin with, but this doesn’t really take away from the watching experience.

Anchovy brings a (highly tongue-in-cheek) Italian flair to the mix, and there is plenty of humor to be found throughout the 40 minutes of screen-time. One of her generals is even called Pepperoni. Feel like a pizza yet?

girls-und-panzer-anzio-ova-anchovy

The lead-up to the battle is plenty of fun and Yukari’s recon mission is a highlight. However, the OVA really shines when it’s time for the main event.

The battle is shown from multiple perspectives, and there’s a plethora of strategy and mind-games going on as usual. This is the real magic of the Girls Und Panzer franchise: It’s written in a way that balances comedy and action like almost no other. The viewer gets treated to a comprehensive view of the battle, and the quality of animation is even better than it was during the original series. The time and effort taken into making this OVA look and feel beautiful very noticeable and rewarding, particularly during the more intense moments of the battle. It must be difficult to balance such a vibrant colour palette with gritty tank warfare but somehow it all works.

As usual, tank otakus will probably relish the more intricate details to be found over the course of the OVA. There’s also a fairly good balance of screen time for the main girls, so your favourite character will almost certainly get the time and attention that only you know she needs.

Girls_und_Panzer_Oarai_Academy_panzer_teams_with_victory_flag_Miho_Nishizumi

In short: This OVA is an absolute treat. Side-effects may include a heightened enthusiasm for Italian cuisine, but it all goes away after you eat a good pizza. Panzer Vor!

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Spring Anime 2014 Wrap-Up

Top 3 Shows

1) Love Live School Idol Project Season 2

Something magical happens when an Idol show serves up all the perfect ingredients it needs to succeed. Love Live! has earned its huge fanbase by delivering loads of awesome music along with some hilarious slice-of-life antics thanks to its colourful characters. Admittedly, a 9-girl cast makes it easy for fans to pick a favourite because the writers can pander in pretty much every direction simultaneously. It works though.

LL

I’d say that Season 2 was even better and more uplifting that the first. They’re both good, but Season 2 held a little more emotional weight, and there were more funny moments too. Love Live! does lean on cliché (guess what… they do manage to save the school from shutting down!) but there were so many awesome tunes going on that I didn’t really care. The animation quality was stepped up too, and it felt as though every inch of the budget was used thoughtfully.

Love Live! School Idol Project Season 2 is my number 1 pick for Spring. Aishteru Banzai!

2) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

I think Part 3 is starting to become my favourite of the JoJo anime adaption. Jotaru is awesome, and the dangerous journey to Egypt (while being fabulous at all times) is pretty much constantly entertaining.

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News that the series will be extended into 4 cours sounds great in theory, but comes at the risk of filler. I’ve heard that the arc is much larger than parts 1 & 2 though, so only time will tell if this is a good thing. It’s hard to get tired of JoJo, so they’d have to screw it up royally for this to go downhill.

I’ve written about how awesome this show is a couple of times now so please refer to earlier articles if you’re somehow not convinced by how great this show is yet.

3) Selector Infected WIXOSS

Yep, WIXOSS made it into my top 3.

I think this show went a little downhill towards the end, perhaps as a result of the extra cour extension news, but the mysteries and characters kept it all together well enough. I’m very curious to watch the sequel now.

selector-infected-wixoss-2

For all of its hiccups though, Selector Infected WIXOSS brought an intensity to the screen that was unrivaled throughout the season. The atmosphere was tantalizingly bleak, and it didn’t take long before I cared enough about the characters to get behind them as they discover the grim realities (and somewhat convoluted intricacies) of the WIXOSS system. I can’t say enough about the awesome background art provided by __ and how much it had an influence on the tone of the series.

I often find myself at odds with the way Mari Okada spins her narratives but this time it worked out well enough. The descision to add an extra cour mid-way through the first was probably difficult to deal with so I guess that’s why the pacing felt a bit off at times. However, I still enjoyed the show and I’m eager to watch the sequel.

 These were also good:

Ping Pong: The Animationpingpong

I still haven’t finished this, but I’ve seen most of it and found lots to enjoy. It’s cool to see such an unorthodox art style and I hope it was well received. For better or worse, I think it’s always good when a show comes out and takes risks like this. This show WILL make you want to play ping-pong.

Haikyuu!haikyuu

I haven’t actually enjoyed a sports anime that much since Eyeshield 21 but Haikyuu! and Ping Pong have changed this. Haikyuu! is blessed with a vibrant and dramatic cast, and the game scenes are often captivating.  This show WILL make you want to play volleyball.

The “Oh God It’s Actually So Bad, Why Does It Even Have To Exist?” Award:

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

LN adaption ☑

Smug MC  ☑

Stupidly overpowered MC ☑

Desperate bro-con imouto ☑

The very manifestation of everything that is wrong with anime ☑

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